Beer sales down sharply during Covid-19 lockdown

With more than 60% consumed in pubs, the brewing sector marked a sharp sales decline

Beer sales are expected to be considerably lower this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the brewing sector urging the Government to provide more support.

Sales fell by more than 17 per cent in the second quarter due to the closure of pubs during the lockdown and are expected to remain low versus 2019 after the reopening of bars was pushed back again.

Ibec-affiliated Drinks Ireland, which on Friday publishes its annual report, has backed calls for additional financial support for brewers and pubs.

Its latest figures show that despite more people drinking at home during the Covid crisis, consumption is in sharp decline following a 2 per cent fall last year.


Overall, the report shows that 62.7 per cent of all beer sales were in the on-trade in 2019, including 80 per cent of stout and 78 per cent of ale sales.

Total production was down by 1 per cent last year but is expected to fall dramatically due to Covid-19.

Exports rose 8.5 per cent last year to €305 million with the top markets for Irish beer being Britain, France, the US, Germany and Canada.

The beer sector employed 1,147 people at the end of last year, and €421 million was paid in excise to the exchequer.

Alcohol excise is the second highest in Europe after Finland and Drinks Ireland called for it to be reduced to help support the sector during the pandemic.

“Prior to the Covid crisis, 2019 was a challenging year for the sector with a decline in total beer sales and production,” said Jonathan McDade, head of the organisation.

“As a result of the Covid-19 crisis and subsequent lockdown measures, the brewing sector faces an uncertain future due to its reliance on a vibrant and active hospitality sector. If there is no significant Government intervention, many outlets will not be in a position to reopen come September,” he added.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist